Tacos and pasta combine to create a creamy, cheesy, comforting meal that families love. This Taco Pasta is made in one skillet and in less than 30 minutes, making it perfect for busy weeknights!
My two favorite foods, Tacos and Pasta, are combined into one creamy, cheesy, hearty dish that is almost TOO easy to make!
This Taco Pasta is everything you crave in a simple family meal. It is made in one pan, in less than 30 minutes, with everyday ingredients, that even picky eaters enjoy! WINNING!
Made with ground beef, salsa, noodles, taco seasoning, and cheese, this pasta dish has all the flavors of traditional tacos--just in pasta form!
It was inspired by my recipe for Homemade Hamburger Helper. It is still a one-pot recipe, made with ground beef, but I decided to change up the flavors for something a bit different. Okay, truthfully, it was because I had leftover salsa from taco night that needed to be used!
And WOW! HOME RUN! It is the perfect meal to make when you can't decide between tacos or pasta.
- Meat: I prefer lean 90/10 ground sirloin for this recipe, but you can use any fat percentage you like--just drain off grease well. You can also use ground chicken or turkey in place of the beef.
- Taco Seasoning: I use homemade taco seasoning to control the sodium and additives. However, feel free to use a packet of taco seasoning if desired.
- Tomato Sauce: Plain tomato sauce adds just the right flavor to the taco pasta.
- Salsa: Salsa is a great short-cut ingredient. It already has diced onions, peppers, and seasons, and helps to flavor up this pasta perfectly without the need to add in several ingredients. I actually prefer jarred salsa to fresh salsa for this recipe, but fresh will work.
- Pasta: You can use whole wheat or regular noodles. You want to choose a pasta that will cling to the meat and sauce, like elbow noodles, shell pasta, or rotini noodles. I prefer elbow noodles as they cook up quickly and I always have them on hand.
- Sour Cream: The sour cream is optional, but makes this pasta super creamy.
- Cheese: What is a good taco without the addition of cheese? Shredded cheese will melt into the pasta and makes this dish super cheesy and delicious. You can use cheddar, Monterrey Jack, or a Mexican cheese blend. I personally prefer to grate the cheese myself, as it melts more evenly, but feel free to use bagged shredded cheese.
How to Make Taco Pasta
- In a large stock pan or skillet, cook the meat over medium-high heat and until browned fully. Be sure to break up the meat into tiny pieces as it cooks.
- Add in the taco seasoning, tomato sauce, salsa, water, and noodles, and stir well.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the pasta is just tender, stirring occasionally.
- Once the pasta is cooked, turn off the heat and add the sour cream and cheese.
- Stir together until incorporated and the cheese is melted.
- Serve this taco pasta plain or as you would tacos, with diced tomatoes, onions, sour cream, avocados, etc.
Recipe Tips and Modifications
- Use the right Pan. Be sure to use a large enough skillet that can brown the meat and fit the pasta and liquid. I find a nice deep dutch or large stock pan best for this pasta recipe.
- Make it Vegetarian. Skip the meat and add in 2 to 3 cups of black or pinto beans in place of the browned meat to keep this meatless and to speed up the process of this recipe.
- Looking to cut your grocery bill? Use ½ pound ground meat instead of a full pound. This dish will still be hearty, but you can cut back on the cost.
- Use Leftovers. If you happen to have leftover taco meat, use in place of the browned meat and omit the taco seasoning from this recipe. You will save time making this recipe AND reinvent your leftovers into something delicious.
- Storage Instructions: Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days. This pasta can be frozen for up to 1 month.
- Additional Add-Ins. Feel free to add frozen corn to the pasta while cooking, or stir in a 16-ounce can of drained beans when adding the cheese and sour cream.
- No Stock? I recommend using water, not stock or broth for the cooking liquid as the taco seasoning, tomato sauce, and salsa have enough added sodium.
More Tex Mex Favorites
If you enjoyed this Taco Pasta, I would love for you to leave a comment and a review below.
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
- 2 ½ cups water divided
- 1 cup salsa
- 2 cups elbow noodles
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2 cups cheddar cheese shredded
- In a large non-stick skillet, or dutch oven, cook the meat over medium high heat until browned, breaking up into small pieces as the meat cooks. Drain off any excess grease.
- Add in the tomato sauce, salsa, taco seasoning, elbow noodles, and 1.5 cups of water, stirring to combine.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the pasta is tender, adding up to 1 cup of water if needed. This will take about 15 minutes for the pasta to be tender.
- Once the pasta is tender, turn off the heat and stir in the cheese and sour cream. Serve.
- Meat: I prefer lean 90/10 ground sirloin for this recipe, but you can use any fat percentage you like--just drain off grease well. You can also use ground chicken or turkey in place of beef.
- If you want to keep this pasta vegetarian, use 2-3 cups of black beans.
- Taco Seasoning: 1 Tbsp chili powder, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes, ⅛ tsp dried oregano, ½ tsp paprika, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper.
- The sour cream is optional but makes this pasta super creamy.
- Feel free to use more or less cheese as desired.
- Pasta: Whole wheat or regular elbow noodles. You can also use mini shell pasta or rotini pasta.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days. This pasta can be frozen for up to 1 month.
Add in 4 cups water or chicken/beef broth to Instant Pot and scrape up all the browned bits off the bottom of the Instant Pot. Turn the Instant Pot off. Add in taco seasoning and stir to combine. Add 16 ounces elbow noodles and gently push down into the liquid to submerge. Top with salsa and tomato sauce. Cook on high pressure for 3 minutes (hit manual and adjust time by using +/_ buttons until the timer reads 3). Once cook time has elapsed, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes. Then do a quick release of any remaining pressure--be sure stand away from vent knob when releasing pressure.
Stir in cheese and sour cream. Let sit for 5 minutes to warm through and serve.